- Associated Press - Friday, June 15, 2018

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit against the Kansas Department of Health and Environment challenging permits for a pork facility expansion.

The lawsuit filed Thursday alleges permits issued for the expansion of a Phillips County hog production facility violate state law and set a dangerous precedent by undermining protections for surface water, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported .

The department decided to allow farmer Terry Nelson to subdivide his existing swine breeding operation into two limited-liability companies, Husky Hogs and Prairie Dog Pork. Nelson and his daughter-in-law each own an LLC.

The lawsuit accuses the department of authorizing Nelson to elude limits on the number of animals that could be confined in buildings within 250 feet (76.2 meters) of surface water.

“It is a clever, but devious, means to evade separation distance protections,” said Bob Eye, attorney for the Sierra Club. “If this goes through, get ready for one of these mega-facilities in your neighborhood.”

The lawsuit said Nelson should be required to move the high-density hog facilities more than 500 feet (152.4 meters) from a nearby creek if he wants to increase hog production on that site. Husky Hogs and Prairie Dog Pork have the same address, and Nelson has acknowledged that Husky Hogs will operate Prairie Dog Pork and “provide all hogs, feed, vet and labor.”

The surface water adjacent to Nelson’s property is Prairie Dog Creek, which flows into Harlan County Lake.

The Kansas Livestock Association provided engineering services and legal counsel to Nelson in the attempt to navigate through the department’s regulatory apparatus. An attorney from the association said in April that he consulted with the agency about the legality of the side-by-side LLCs.

The state agency declined to comment to the newspaper citing pending litigation.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

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